Specialized Ministry — September 2007
The Specialized Ministry of Benevolence Ministry
(Family Foster Care)
By Barbara J. Smith, Member, International Women’s Ministries Board of Directors
“But Jesus called them unto him, and said, ‘Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:16).
The evening was late when the call came in to the Church of God Home for Children (Smoky Mountain Campus) department of Family Foster Care. At first glance, one would have thought it to be another call not unlike many others received daily about children who are in a distressed situation and need somewhere to go. After all, this is what this ministry is all about, helping children in their most difficult hour of need. But this was different, the situation was unique and Family Foster Care Department Director Don Baker was the on call person for this interesting moment. It seemed that the State of Tennessee had located a family grouping of children, perhaps ten in number, that were living in a one-room shack in East Tennessee and the picture wasn’t pretty. When our workers arrived on the scene, the children were living alone with scores of cats and they were covered in cat feces from head to toe. The stench was almost unbearable and at first the children were thought to be retarded because they could not communicate. Later on it was learned that they had a language all their own—making noises like cats scratching and meowing at one another.
As I have reflected on this amazing moment, I have often wondered, what would have happened to these precious children if the Church of God had not had a specialized ministry of benevolence offering family foster care. And, what would have taken place if Church of God people were unwilling to provide benevolent care to those “least among the kingdom of God.”
That night of spirit-led compassionate care led a team of Church of God ministers and laymen alike to spend all night long bathing these children smothered in filth, ridding them of the lice that covered their bodies and clothing them with new garments that they could be comfortable and clean in. More so, however, it led one family to sacrificially say, “We will take all of them!” Some were too old to go into foster care so this meant about eight of them would need to be housed. Can you imagine taking in eight children at one time? Can you picture your family taking in eight children with very special needs all in one evening? One Church of God family did and that made all the difference.
When I think of the specialized ministry of Family Foster Care, I smile and rejoice knowing that to date more than one hundred children have been successfully placed in Church of God homes to live safe in a world that seems so insecure. I thank my God upon every remembrance of those who have unreservedly given of themselves to embrace the joy of being a foster parent. Too, I think how wonderful it is knowing how many children in Church of God foster homes were saved from being placed in homes where God is not honored, alternative lifestyles are glorified and Jesus is never mentioned but for these, our children, it just isn’t so!
Many of these children are adopted by these Church of God families and are given permanent homes of gracious love and care. They have parents who love them unconditionally and grandparents who hold them dearest to them, I know, you see, because I am one of those loving grandparents and our family namesake will be carried on to the next generation by one of these “little children” whom Jesus loves!